Can I drink caffeine if I have atrial fibrillation?

A cup of coffee with a saucer

I’ve got atrial fibrillation. Can I drink caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee?

Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor says:

Research suggests that caffeine isn’t a cause of abnormal heart rhythms or atrial fibrillation, and drinking four to five cups of tea or coffee a day shouldn’t increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease either.

However, the effect of caffeine will vary between people. Some find that it affects them more than others and may feel that it exacerbates some symptoms, such as palpitations.

If you drink a lot of tea or coffee or are just trying to cut down, using decaffeinated versions can be a good alternative. Herbal teas such as peppermint and ginger are usually caffeine-free, but green tea does contain caffeine. And if you’re switching to herbal teas, watch out for liquorice as an ingredient – it can raise blood pressure if you have large amounts.

If you decide to avoid caffeine, don’t forget that it’s in other foods and drinks, including chocolate bars, hot chocolate, cola and energy drinks, and some sports drinks and gels.

Victoria Taylor Meet the expert

Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with more than 20 years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. At the BHF she advises on diet and nutrition.

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